The city’s small, tight-knit Sudanese community came together last night to remember one of its members who was killed while cycling in Ottawa’s east end last month.

People gathered at the Annunciation of the Lord Parish on Ogilvie Road to remember a promising 22-year-old athlete and musician who was well-liked and who wanted to be a doctor.

On July 21, Charles Luka was struck by a vehicle in the area of Blair and Ogilvie roads while biking home from his uncle’s house. He was not wearing a helmet and later died of his injuries.

When Brian Adeba heard of his friend’s death, “it sucked the strength out of me,” he said.

“He was full of life,” Adeba said of his friend, who he met in 2005. “It’s such a tragedy for the Sudanese community. He was a soccer player and very athletic. He was very well liked.”

A graduate of Gloucester High School, Luka was a biotechnology student at Alqonquin College and was active in the Sudanese community.

David Abraham, who is also Sudanese and a friend of Luka’s, remembered the young man as “very funny, very friendly and energetic.”

“He was loved by all,” said Abraham, who organized last night’s memorial. “He was someone who had a vision and believed in himself. He was very promising and we were very proud to have him in the community.”

Ottawa’s Sudanese community is small, but its members came together to raise more than $16,000 for the repatriation of Luka’s body to Sudan, Abraham said.

“Everyone gave what they could,” he said.

Luka came to Ottawa from the town of Torit in South Sudan about six years ago with his uncle and two of his brothers, Abraham said. He and his brothers moved out several years ago and Luka was their guardian.

“We’ll sit down and see how we can help them,” Abraham said.

“Our community is very close and the death of this very loved young man has brought the people even closer together.”

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